A historical marker, honoring pinup icon and Nashville native Bettie Page, will be unveiled at Page’s alma mater Hume-Fogg Academic High School. The unveiling is expected to take place later this year or the beginning of next year.
The marker is all thanks to Ben Wilkinson, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. Wilkinson was a history student at MTSU and considers himself an amateur pop culture historian.
“I celebrate those who contributed immensely to some part of our culture,” Wilkinson said, “eccentric and unique people … who have made an impact on society by doing things their own way and not trying to ‘fit in’ with what society deems as normal.”
While taking a course at MTSU on the history of women in the South, Wilkinson discovered Page was a local. This led him to channel his passion for history into action by successfully proposing the Bettie Page historical marker.
“Her importance in our pop culture history is immeasurable,” Wilkinson said. “Everyone from artists, actors, photographers, models and even musicians have sung the praises of the impact that Bettie has had on pop culture … and she deserves the recognition!”
As an avid Page fan, Wilkinson felt for many years that Nashville needed to formally recognize itself as her hometown.
Mary Hoffschwelle, a professor of history who is now associate provost for strategic planning and partnerships, taught the course that inspired Wilkinson so many years ago and praised him for his independent research and work on the Bettie Page historical marker.
Hoffschwelle highlighted MTSU’s work on other historical marker projects and dedication to historic preservation through its graduate history programs and the Center for Historic Preservation.
“The Department of History has a Ph.D. program in public history and a public history concentration in its master’s program in which students and faculty have worked on marker projects,” she said. “Additionally, faculty and staff at MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation teach public history courses and, aided by graduate assistants, work with community members and groups on historical marker projects.”
You can learn more about the university’s opportunities in history and historic preservation, visit the Department of Historywebsite at https://www.mtsu.edu/history/index.php or the Center for Historic Preservation website at https://www.mtsuhistpres.org.
Wilkinson is already at work on a second historical marker. This one will be for a legendary magician from Nashville, “who was a superstar back in the 1940s-60s,” Wilkinson said. Wilkinson also says a documentary will be made chronicling the journey of this marker.